Posts Tagged ‘Imran Khan’

Chop chop

In South Asia on 31. July 2017 at 21:57

WITH THE FIVE robed men’s decision, the third time Prime Minister, strongman of Lahore, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, again leaves office despite a majority in Parliament. The matter that fell him was not having declared, unclaimed salary, from a foreign-based company where he was a silent board member. A procedure that is worth its critique, but not at all a disqualification from his seat in the national assembly.

But these details are of no interest for those who cheer these days. As if a long sought revenge has been delivered, not taking into consideration the implications and consequences such a decision makes. Pakistan is a country still recovering from decades of on off, and direct-indirect military rule, it has only recently managed to make the steps to strengthen a parliamentary practice of civilian sovereignty – but certain political (and their non-political backers) cannot accept a system in where they lose, so they choose a system where they win.

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Niazi from Mianwali

In South Asia on 9. November 2011 at 14:08

Article is also published at The Express Tribune Blogs

With the Arab Spring sweeping the dictators, Pakistanis are looking for a revolution on home ground to get rid of its democratically elected government. They find the new hope or revolutionary in the Niazi from Mianwali.  Former cricketer turned philanthropist turned politician Imran Khan is probably the most popular politician when the major alternatives has been tested and failed. While Pakistan will never get its “Arab spring” a change in the political landscape will be a reality for sure.

The previously naive Khan has learnt some lessons from past mistakes and started to become more mature in the political landscape. He is careful to criticize the military and its top brass, despite his criticism of the last military dictator. He even seems to recruit many of his senior party members from the ranks of army, navy and the air forces. His party apparatus also seems to grow up to be represented in all urban cities all across the nation. Not many parties have that wide appeal.

But the support for Khan should not be blind. Neither should the supporters, most of them youth who will vote for the first time, accept each and every policy as good. Khan has been wrong in the past and he will make mistakes in the future. Pakistan don’t need any messiahs, it needs humble and strong leaders. We all know pretty well how he in the joy of winning Cricket World Cup 1992 claimed all the credits for himself. But in order to support the cricket hero voters should know the impact of his policies and his political rhetoric.

In all its time, PTI has been clear on the issue of rampant corruption. Khan has thus possible been the mere symbol of anti-corruption movement in the minds of the people. He should not lose it by keeping people in his ranks that use each opportunity to earn some dimes.

In his early years Khan used to attract intellectuals like Dr. Pervez Hassan (renown environmental law expert), Nasim Zehra (political commentator), Nazim Haji (founder of Citizens Police Liaison Committee) and Owais Ghani (who later became Governor of Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa).

Now the new turn coaters seem to be people like Mian Azhar the main architect behind the pro-dictator PML-Q. Other two gentlemen are Iftikhar Jhagra from PPP and Khwaja Khan Hoti from ANP, both belonging to political dynasties. One forward bloc of PML-Q with about two dozen lawmakers has for the last half year also been in touch with Khan. Not to forget Shah Mehmood Qureshi who has changed sides due to grudge within the PPP.

With such inputs there are risks of corrupt or self interest politicians who can damage PTIs image. Khan should be consistent on this point to exclude such members, but also have an open party apparatus so he can gain politicians in order to fill the future assemblies. After all, just as a cricket team, he needs people who know the walk of life inside the administration.

PTI has also been vocal to cut the overwhelming bureaucracy. According to the International Crisis Group Pakistani bureaucracy numbers 4 million individuals, the need of the day is much lower. Good initiative by Khan, but the process of reducing bureaucracy should be slow and careful in order not to face opposition from Pakistan Civil Services or get an unemployment rate which jumps to sky high levels.

Another good point is to increase the funds allocated to education and health sectors. Today only 2 % of the GDP is used on education. In some provinces only 60% of the allocated funds are used. The main focus should be on the quality of education up to metric levels. Higher education too needs finance and attention but this part should be in cooperation with the private sector. Imran Khan should know pretty well what impact (disaster!) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s nationalization of education had on the quality of education. The legacy from Zia era (1977-1988) on the school curriculum which is filled with hate against the minorities should also be of major interest. Religious parties oppose any change, but PTI should dodge it for the betterment of the quality in education.

Pakistan’s tax to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world (hovering around 9% annually). The majority of tax revenue is gathered from the middle class, the business community and from the bureaucrats who receive official salaries. PTI has been vocal on its demand to reform the tax system in order to let all segments of the society to pay up. Good signals, and probably the important business community will join ranks if it is counseled.

Now to some of Mr. Khan’s policies which will backfire, if in power. If is important as Khan cannot alone form a possible government, he does not have the necessary critical masses and will need to cooperate with other political parties.

Imran Khan have sometimes in heated debates claimed that Pakistan is self sufficient and would not need loans from IMF, WB, ADB or any foreign country if its corruption was nil. All countries in the world, even the most developed do have to some degree corrupt officials. What can be done is to reform the system and let democracy work on continuously without interruptions from Generals. Khan should rather focus on giving clear cut visions of a transparent and auditable democracy instead of labeling all political opponents of corrupt self interest people. In the end of the day, he himself is a politician, and his party apparatus is filled with politicians.

Imran Khan is chanting Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s book title “Friends not masters”. Pakistan should probably realize that beggars cannot be choosers, neither can we deceive our allies and claim respect at the same time. Had Pakistan done its job, to keep its territory clean of terrorists who kill both Pakistanis and civilians cross the border, then drones, CIA contractors and NAVY Seals would newer had been a reality. Sad but true.

Imran Khan also needs to breakaway with groupings like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamaat-e-Ulema Islam Fazl (JUI-F). It is people from JI, JUI-F and PML-N ranks which used to spread the conspiracy that Khan was in hands of his ex ‘Jewish’ father-in-law and was in a deal to sell off the nation. It is these groupings alongside conspiracy loving paranoids like Zaid Hamid, Hamid Gul, Fareed Paracha and Munawar Hasan who only deliver lies and paranoia instead of logical and rational solutions to national problems. He has plenty of well-wishers to choose from, among them columnists Hasan Nisar and Ardeshir Cowasjee, professors Pervez Hoodbhoy and Mehdi Hasan and several other senior activists.

The PTI is believed to be supported / approved by Pakistani intelligence (ISI, IB and MI) just the way Nawaz Sharif and his IJI were in late 90s. The new vice president of PTI Sind chapter Prince Jam Qaim even admitted that he joined the party after some well wishers in the military had advised him to join. For the sake of democracy and Pakistan’s prosperity, let’s hope this connection don’t affect Khan’s work for reform in the future. Civilians should control the military, not the other way around.

Regarding the security situation in Pakistan, Khan has been keen to use dialogue and fight extremism with development projects. This is a good point of view to start from. Khan probably know more than any established political parties in Sind and Punjab of what is going on in the insurgence areas where Taliban and Pakistan Army is at war.

But Khan should also be wise not to waste time on dialogue with forces which are at war with the Pakistani state and its people. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other outfits in the Tribal Areas have several times struck deals with Islamabad (Government) and Rawalpindi (GHQ) but each time the ceasefire is used to take advantages. Pakistan seriously needs one committed army, without any double deals, one committed government without any risk of being unpopular and one united people committed to protect the survivor of the nation. Khan’s promise of guaranteed peace within 90 days if in power is utter rubbish and misleading.

During the mammoth rally of supporters in Lahore which scared the “living daylight out of those in power” recently, Khan was clear on relations with India regarding the Kashmir conflict. It is important to realize that bilateral relations with India have been improving for the last decade. The current government has also been patient and done some good diplomacy despite the Mumbai 2008 issue which resulted in diplomatic row. PTI should deliver a clear agenda of cooperation with India on trade and should go forth with dialogue and compromises as the only solution for the Kashmir issue.

PTI has surely made some steps to become a new force in the political landscape. It is threatening the hegemony of PML-Q and PML-N in northern Punjab and Hazara in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It is also threatening Jamaat-e-Islami and ANP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi. In Baluchistan PTI is gaining ground in Quetta and other urban areas.

Khan only needs to convert the support into votes, because many have come before him with reasonable agendas, but have always lost support during elections. One good example is the respected Asghar Khan of the Tehreek-e-Istiqlal. Khan needs careful slogans and one committed path to take advantage of this massive support.